WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday that the pivotal US-led military operation on the Taliban's southern Afghan stronghold will "not destroy Kandahar in the effort to save Kandahar." Seated next to Afghan President Hamid Karzai during his visit to Washington, Clinton said US commanders have learned the lessons of waging a counterinsurgency in Iraq and will seek to return a functioning Afghan city to the people who live there. "They want to have a successful counterinsurgency operation that doesn't destroy Kandahar in the effort to save Kandahar," the chief US diplomat said during a discussion at the US Institute of Peace. "This is not Fallujah," she said referring to the bloody, large-scale US Marine offensive in the Iraqi city of Fallujah in 2004. Her words on Kandahar echoed a statement attributed to an unnamed US officer in Vietnam in 1968 after a fierce battle in the Mekong Delta town of Ben Tre.